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The week’s critic wrangle: “Interview.”

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We’ve yet to figure out what people actually think of Theo Van Gogh as a filmmaker — murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004, the Dutch provocateur is best known as an uneasy martyr for free speech, one who was fond of inflammatory public statements, among them frequently referring to Muslims as geitenneukers: goat-fuckers. Only three of his films are available here on DVD, and two of those, the cynic in us feel obliged to point out, were released after his well-publicized death. This Steve Buscemi-directed remake of his 2003 "Interview" is the most exposure a Van Gogh film has received in the US; two more remakes are due to follow, with John Turturro and Stanley Tucci each stepping up to take the reigns.

"Buscemi’s talky, stagey ‘Interview’… doesn’t make much of a case for [Van Gogh] as an important or original artist," writes Andrew O’Hehir at Salon. Michael Koresky at indieWIRE counters that "while Van Gogh’s legacy as a controversial, anti-establishment, anticlerical thinker could be better benefited than from this puff piece in disguise, ‘Interview’ does provide director/leading man Buscemi and Sienna Miller with a dirty little playground on which to cavort and chew scenery."

The main observation being made about the film, which is essentially a two-character piece taking place in a Manhattan apartment, seems to be that Sienna Miller, playing a supposedly vapid soap star, turns out a surprisingly good performance. Nathan Rabin at the Onion AV Club lauds her "bewitchingly physical performance," while acknowledging that "the film never convincingly explains why Miller doesn’t just kick her sour, belligerent interrogator out, except perhaps for a stubborn unwillingness to let the ‘interview’ end until she’s secured a distinct moral victory." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly declares that the film should lay to rest "any doubts as to whether Sienna Miller is a gifted actress," and that it’s "a fierce and resonant tribute" to Van Gogh. David Edelstein at New York, positively enchanted by the film, calls her "a stupendous actress," and adds that "Good writers, good directors, good actors, know the change of beat is the pulse of any scene. Buscemi is a brilliant writer, director, and actor, and each beat in Interview is crystalline."

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times notes the film’s "obvious drift, the sham setup, the dubious details (surely a tabloid
favorite would drape her windows more carefully) and the dreariness of
the digital- video colors and tones," but still finds plenty of worth in both performances:

Mr. Buscemi always steals his scenes with stealth, nibbling where other actors chew and gulp. His evident lack of vanity is its own kind of vanity, one that is well matched by Ms. Miller’s utter confidence. For once, she holds the screen, not just decorates it.

Elsewhere, Nick Schager at Slant acknowledges that the film "doesn’t lead to any particularly astute conclusions" about the relationship between journalists and their celebrity subjects, but that "the two lead performances remain rock solid, and Buscemi’s direction is consistently invigorating." And Jim Ridley at the Village Voice finds that "Interview" is "the least concrete and most artificial of Buscemi’s films," but that it’s fitting: "for these characters, there’s no real life anymore—just a floating acting exercise that shifts from public (Miller nails feigned sincerity to the couple whose restaurant table she commandeers) to private."

+ "Interview" (Sony Pictures Classics)

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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